There is so much noise around mental health at the moment, which is a great thing, as for so long mental health has been regarded as a second class citizen to physical health.
The focus on our minds and wellbeing is crucial as suicide rates continue to increase. In the US alone the rate of suicide has increased by 30% in the past 17 years which is truly shocking. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44416727
One of the key messages in the plight to understand and treat mental health issues is; “talk to someone”.
The concept of talking to someone about your problems and feelings is significant and should be straightforward in theory, right? However, it’s not always that easy to put into practise.
I remember when I was going through some really difficult periods of feeling very low, helpless and overwhelmed, I knew I needed to talk to someone about it but I had a real sense of guilt about not wanting to bring people down and not wanting to burden everyone with my feelings and problems.
Guilt is another component of depression and it’s a hard one to get your head around. You’re already feeling very sensitive about how people perceive you so to then be opening up about such personal and often dark thoughts takes a lot of courage.
I found it even more difficult to do with my family vs a counsellor as the conversations with my family tended to revolve around trying to pick me up and I could always hear the relief in their voices when I was having a good day and the panic that set it when I was low which made me feel even more guilty and ashamed as I wanted to protect their feelings.
With a counsellor, the detachment is really helpful as you don’t feel responsible for their feelings. You also know they can handle whatever you tell them as they will have heard it so many times before. I guess the downside is the cost and the fact that you often have to travel to have that conversation as opposed to just picking up the phone or having someone drop by your house. There are, however, more and more counselling services that offer skype calls which is useful. I think it’s much easier to open up and have an honest conversation when you feel comfortable and safe in your surroundings so having the conversation cosy on your sofa will make it easier to chat openly.
One of the other fears around sharing your feelings with someone is that you may worry they will think you’re being dramatic or ungrateful for the good things you have in life and that they will judge you or think that your problems aren’t important.
Someone will always have it worse than you but that shouldn’t take away from how you’re feeling.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re allowed to feel that way regardless of what’s causing it.
Another reason why talking through depression is hard is that you might be disillusioned and consumed by your thoughts, fears and worries and not be able to recognise yourself anymore. If you’ve been used to putting on a front to tell the world all is ok you could be scared of how people will see you once that fence comes down…..
So, to start tackling depression we must first deal with overcoming these fears and once we do we’re already on the road to better wellbeing.
Why it’s so important to talk:
- Talking takes the thoughts out of your head and into reality – sometimes when you express them they don’t seem so bad. The release of these thoughts can also provide comfort.
- You can get perspective when you air your feelings to an empathetic ear
- Talking and letting someone in makes you feel supported and not alone
- You feel more able to cope knowing that someone else has heard what you’re going through and its not a secret anymore
Once we take all these fears away though, talking about depression is so important and so much easier once we get going. People may surprise you with their response, so please, if you feel you need to talk, pick up the phone.
This post is also available in: Arabic